The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has been making waves when it comes to gender identity, recently allowing transgender boys to join the organization. Now, they are expanding even further!
According to New York Daily News, Boy Scouts are now allowing girls to join, and will allow its female members to earn its most prestigious rank: Eagle Scout.
This move has been over 100 years in the making; girls have been excluded from the Eagle Scout rank since the BSA's founding.
“The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls,” said the organizations official press release.
So, when does this come into effect?
In 2018, both boys and girls will be able to enroll. Scout groups with existing "packs" will be given the option to create a new female companion "pack."
Cub Scouts — made up of first to fifth grade — will be separated by gender “to maintain the integrity of the single-gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.”
The program will be expanded for pre-teen and teen girls in 2019, putting girls steps closer to finally being able to earn the Eagle Scout rank.
While girls could previously partake in Boy Scout programs such as outdoor activities and career-based initiatives, they hadn't been able to reach the highest rank.
“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law,” noted BSA’s Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh. “The values of scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent for example — are important for both young men and women.”
Of course this decision doesn't come without controversy.
"We were disappointed in the lack of transparency as we learned that you are surreptitiously testing the appeal of a girls' offering to millennial parents," Girl Scouts of America president Kathy Hopinkah Hannan wrote to Boy Scouts President Randall Stephenson in an email according to Buzzfeed News.
In the email, Hannan accused BSA of luring away Girl Scout recruits. "Furthermore, it is inherently dishonest to claim to be a single gender organization while simultaneously endeavoring upon a co-ed model."
However, it appears the bottom line is simple: girls want the same opportunities as boys.
"I just want to do what the Boy Scouts do: Earn merit badges and earn the Eagle award," said Sydney Ireland told NBC News during her Eagle Scout bid. "The Girl Scouts is a great organization, but it's just not the program I want to be a part of. I think girls should have the opportunity to be a member of any organization they want regardless of gender."